Crisis in Edo Takes New Twist as Obaseki Yields to Pressure, Probes Oshiomhole

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Obaseki, Oshiohmole
Obaseki, Oshiohmole

By Akanimo Sampson

The persisting rift between the National Chairman of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) cum former Governor of Edo State, Adams Oshiomhole and his successor, Godwin Obaseki, is currently taking a turn for the worse.

Some aggrieved citizens are pressing the incumbent governor who is locked in a re-election battle with his hitherto political godfather (Oshiomhole) to bring him to account for his stewardship as the governor of the state for eight years.

While the Edo Government under the watch of Governor Obaseki has already promised to probe contracts for the construction of structures and supply of equipment to Benin Central Hospital, awarded by the Oshiomhole administration, a civic group, the Save Edo Group has been calling for the probe of the APC Chairman for allegedly squandering the funds of the state.

Leader of the group, Blessing Agbomhere, in a statement wants Governor Obaseki to probe how the sum of $54,912,710.80, around N19.8 billion that was pumped into the state by the Federal Government as special intervention funds was spent by the Oshiomhole administration.

According to the group, the huge interventionist fund was allegedly released from the Excess Crude Account to the state government and her local government councils in December 31, 2014. The group wants Obaseki to properly investigate if the council chairmen were privy to the management of the fund.

Continuing, the Edo group said a comprehensive probe of the Oshiomhole administration will help to unravel how the state came by her “high level of indebtedness and numerous allegations of financial recklessness, looting and corruption’’.

Before now, Dr Emmanuel Osaigbovo, the Chairman of the state branch of Nigeria Medical Association, had in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria in Benin City, the state capital, on April 17, 2018 said that only three hospitals out of the 34 owned by the state government were functioning.

Though he named the functional hospitals as the Central Hospital, Stella Obasanjo Hospital and General Hospital, Auchi, he however, said that in the course of their five days warning strike embarked upon in March, the government hinted of its intention to ensure the rejuvenation of all its hospital.

The NMA chairman said this was contained in a government blueprint on the health sector in the state, which was made available to the association, noting then that the blueprint also contained government possible solution to some of the issues raised, which prompted the strike.

Adding, he said the government blueprint outlined plans for new development of primary healthcare centres, with the first 20 to be fixed within three months and an additional 200 to be completed within 24 months, and that the government has given assurance to employ more doctors and allied health workers before the end of the year.

Meanwhile, Cruise Osagie, Special Adviser to Edo Governor on Media and Communication Strategy, in a statement on Sunday disclosed that a Commission of enquiry will soon be constituted to probe the contracts.

According to Osagie, the action for probe was necessitated by numerous calls on the government to look into the contracts in which billions of taxpayers’ money were expended on poorly executed projects under the regime of Oshiomhole, pointing out that the commission of enquiry will have a mandate to ascertain if details of contract terms were adhered to, especially the quality of materials used for the building.

He said the probe will also determine the extent of irregularities regarding the purchase of equipment among others, adding, ‘’the state government will investigate allegations of fraud and irregularities with the contract for procurement of the hospital equipment.’’

Osagie said the commission will unravel why the equipment contracted were yet to be supplied and other claims made by the contractors, and that ‘’the contractors who handled the building had questions to answer including the shoddy jobs done among others as works are ongoing at the hospital to patch up parts of the hospital, due to the poorly constructed facilities leading to the collapse of the roof in some sections.’’